GEL-Cumulus 21 vs. GEL-Cumulus 20
ASICS released the GEL-Cumulus 21, which has a redesigned upper with an updated perforated mesh design, which can be noted in the comparison photos below. The new shoe also features a removable EVA sockliner, in contrast to the fixed ortholite sockliner from the GEL-Cumulus 20. Compare the two shoes below, with the newest model shown first.
We can't vouch as to whether the updates to the GEL-Cumulus address any of the grievances we had with the previous version, but we are linking to the new model in this review nonethless. Be aware, however, that the review that follows pertains only to the GEL-Cumulus 20.
Hands-On Review of the GEL-Cumulus 20
The stiff, tight upper of the GEL-Cumulus 20 created an uncomfortable ride, and at the end of the day, we just wouldn't recommend this shoe over its many superior competitors.
As the GEL-Cumulus 20 fell to the bottom of our charts, it is readily apparent why it did not go home with one of our coveted awards.
Strutting in style with the Asics Gel-Cumulus
The GEL-Cumulus has a moderate amount of cushioning that put it in the running for the best all-around road running shoe. However, the padding wasn't anything to write home about, and we awarded it a very average score in this metric.
This shoe is similarly padded to the three Brooks models we tried, as well as the New Balance Fresh Foam Zante. We ultimately awarded it the same average score as the Altra Escalante for a decent yet inferior performance. The exterior was stiffer than in some of our favorite models, which is likely due to its significantly heavier weight, which we will discuss more below. We can't deny the impact this had on our running comfort, however, and we much appreciated lighter models like the Brooks Adrenaline that created a cloud-like step.
A close-up look of the Gel-Cumulus' plush heel
While ASICS suggests that the GEL-Cumulus is designed to be highly responsive, we just couldn't agree; this may be due in part to its weight, and while it was bouncier than the Altra Escalante, it was still less so than our favorite Brooks models, the Adrenaline and Ghost. This shoe provides a decent amount of responsiveness, and we were surprised at how bouncy we felt for the amount of cushioning underfoot. Compared to the mega-comfy HOKA Bondi, whose cushioning entirely compromises its responsiveness, the GEL-Cumulus does a much better job at finding the middle ground, though it is still not our favorite.
Testing the bounciness of the Gel-Cumulus on Yosemite's great running paths
Our reviewers might have been more likely to recommend this shoe to the average buyer if it were not for this category. We were immediately dismayed by the narrow fit and stiff padding, which earned the GEL-Cumulus one of the lower scores in this review.
The Gel-Cumulus has a relatively comfy upper but a narrow fit.
In our testing, the GEL-Cumulus was less breathable than some of its competitors, as well as less cushioned. The tongue, heel, and sides are fitted with stiff padding that is significantly less cozy that the plush designs of the Brooks Ghost or Adrenaline. The lack of cushioning, when combined with an incredibly narrow toe, create an uncomfortable fit that we noticed immediately.
Despite being less comfortable, the GEL-Cumulus does have a lot of support. The thick overlay at the midfoot helps guide the foot into the proper step, leaving us feeling secure and supported.
When compared to the lack of support in the Escalante or HOKA Bondi, the GEL-Cumulus feels very snug. We appreciated the way the shoe's outer is reinforced, but we did wish for a bit more flexibility in the forefoot. This is one of the more supportive shoes in this review which, if particularly important to you, may help you overlook some of its lesser characteristics.
The Gel-Cumulus is one of the more supportive shoes we tested.
Generally speaking, weight is less important than the other metrics in our test. It's hard to deny, however, how heavy the GEL-Cumulus is when compared to some of our favorite shoes, and we couldn't help but dock points. At 8.4 ounces per shoe, the GEL-Cumulus is on the heavier side. The majority of shoes we tested fell in the eight-ounce range, like the HOKA Clifton (8.4 ounces) and the Brooks Ghost (8.8 ounces). We would be happy to overlook the weight if the shoe had incredible performance in another category. However, the GEL-Cumulus' weight is just one more reason we didn't favor this shoe.
Budget-friendly and supportive, the GEL-Cumulus could be a good buy for shoppers with narrow feet who tend to over-pronate. However, its lack of comfort makes it a poor purchase for the average runner who, for the same price, would likely be happier in a more cushioned shoe like the Brooks Ghost.
The Gel-Cumulus is a good choice for Yosemite's well-groomed pathways.
Ringing in at $120, the GEL-Cumulus is smack in the middle of this review's price range. Unfortunately, it was a much lower scorer, making it difficult to justify buying when the Editors' Choice Award-winning Brooks Adrenaline costs the same amount.
The ASICS GEL-Cumulus is a popular shoe that seems to have narrowed in its latest iteration. We reviewed the previous version of last year's running shoes review and found nearly the same results: despite a supportive, stable construction, the upper was uncomfortable, and the landing was mediocre.
The Gel-Cumulus 20